Jeffrey Parker of Belleville was just sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for trying to smuggle heroin, cocaine and 12 kilograms of fentanyl across the border from Mexico.
His story sounded much like the routine federal court proceedings we often see, except for one detail shared by an FBI supervisor.
"The fentanyl found in Parker's car could have caused the deaths of up to 5.8 million people — more than the populations of Dallas, San Antonio and Houston combined," wrote James R. Reed, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Laredo, Texas, District Office, in a press release.
He was first caught March 7, but charges were dismissed when he claimed he was dying from heart failure. He immediately went back to trafficking, poorly, and was caught again June 7.
Fentanyl is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. In 2016 it was the cause of 19,413 overdose deaths, or 30 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S.
The fentanyl death rate doubled in a year, passing all other opioids including heroin and oxycodone. It is a killer because it can immediately stop a person's brain from knowing to breathe.
Parker is an unrepentant drug dealer wanting to make a profit from others' misery. Were he motivated by political ideology rather than cash, we would seek the death penalty for his ability to kill more people than died on 9/11 and in Oklahoma City and in every other major terrorist attack combined.
The evil of his crimes is not lessened because he was stopped or because his victims would have died in private.